You’ve probably indulged in a kefir milk latte from your favorite coffee shop or drunk kombucha to improve your gut health, but have you tried using probiotics to support your skin’s microbiome?
Whether they use Traditional Chinese Medicine or Ayurveda, holistic care practitioners have always connected digestion with overall health. Dietitians, too, know that fermented foods and live cultures improve the gut microbiome.
In recent years, however, the same philosophy of nurturing the microbiome and promoting healthy bacteria has made its way into the beauty and skincare world.
What Do Probiotics Do?
First, we need a refresher on probiotics. Probiotics are “good bacteria,” and there are trillions of these living microorganisms on (and inside) your body. Probiotics help your body function and maintain a healthy balance.
As you probably already know, your gut is filled with probiotics. Your skin, however, is your body’s largest organ, and it contains exponentially more bacteria than your gut does.
Although the concept of bacteria might not be very pleasant, bacteria ultimately protect your body by keeping it healthy. In fact, the microorganisms inside and on your body actually outnumber the cells of your body—that’s a lot of living organisms!
Why Use Probiotics on your Skin?
Supporting a healthy microbiome on your skin is essential to maintaining a resilient barrier between its inner layers and the outside world.
When this balance gets disrupted, you can experience a variety of skin conditions, including:
Ingesting probiotics through fermented foods such as kefir, kombucha, and yogurt can affect your skin’s appearance indirectly. However, by topically applying probiotics to your skin, you may be able to achieve these results faster.
Along with promoting healthy gut flora, probiotics benefit your skin in many ways. They:
- Strengthen the skin barrier: Probiotics assist in the formation of ceramides, natural fats that protect the skin from losing moisture and elasticity.
- Restore balance: Probiotics reduce redness and irritation. They calm and soothe the skin while keeping it hydrated.
- Reduce inflammation: One of the biggest benefits of probiotic skincare is minimizing inflammation. According to healthy aging expert Nicholas Perricone, MD, inflammation is a leading factor when it comes to skin aging. Reducing inflammation effectively slows down the overall rate of aging by reducing the number of times your immune system has to respond to the threat of it.
- Calm skin conditions: Rosacea, psoriasis, fine lines, wrinkles, dilated pores, and loss of elasticity can happen when your skin’s microbiome is out of balance.
- Regulate pH: The skin’s bacteria help to regulate pH levels and protect against infections and environmental damage. The greater the diversity of bacteria, the stronger your skin’s defense.
- Boost collagen production: Probiotics naturally are a source of lactic acid. Lactic acid stimulates the production of hyaluronic acid, which improves the collagen structure within your skin cells. Hyaluronic acid is responsible for retaining moisture in the skin, giving it a youthful appearance.
Probiotic skincare regimens are comprised of a variety of products, including creams, serums, masks, and cleansers.
Cleaning Your Skin with Probiotics
For most of us, washing our skin is often as routine as brushing our teeth. But it’s time we started caring for our skin mindfully. By paying attention to the ingredients in the products we use, we can ensure we aren’t removing beneficial microbes as we wash off the dirt from the day.
Harsh cleansers and abrasive exfoliators can strip your skin of these good bacteria, making it susceptible to external stresses and pathogens. If you’ve experienced redness or irritation after using a cleanser, it’s likely too severe for your skin.
Ideally, you want an even layer of microbiome covering your skin in order to protect it against the pathogens it encounters daily. This layer will reduce moisture loss and strengthen your skin’s barrier. Having a diverse microbiome also helps boost your defense against pathogens that enter the skin layers which reduces toxins in deeper skin levels. Face masks can be an excellent tool for replenishing moisture and the probiotic bacteria stripped from the skin during the cleansing process.
Looking for a good mask? Check out Summer Glo Co’s Probiotic Clay Mask. We love that it uses naturally derived probiotics from fermented pomegranate enzymes and goji berry powder to give you a hefty dose of antioxidants, and Vitamins C and E.
The Bottom Line
As with gut health, probiotics that promote healthy microbiomes are becoming essential in products of the skin care world. By incorporating probiotic creams, serums, and cleansers into your skincare regime, you can improve the health of your skin’s protective layer and its overall vitality.